Mirror, Mirror: A Lament From A Size Zero On The Ever-Changing Body “Ideal”
I spent my teens and early 20s wishing for a bigger, rounder, fuller body. In fact, I did more than wish. I padded my bra with two rolled-up washcloths, I wore two pairs of long underwear beneath my jeans, and I stuffed myself with a pint of ice cream every night. Every night.
Alas, none of it worked. I remained a small-boobed, flat-assed, tiny-limbed, size zero waif.
Boo hoo, right? I hear a chorus of the world’s tiniest violins. But back in the ’80s and early ’90s, a certain type of body was deemed the “ideal.” It was Cybill Shepherd with her full, round ass and linebacker shoulders. It was the Amazons of the catwalk: Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista and Cindy Crawford. It was bootylicious broads like the original Daisy Duke, Catherine Bach, and busty beach babe Heather Thomas of “The Fall Guy.”
Then Kate Moss came along. Something called “heroin chic” was in vogue. My petite frame was suddenly all the rage. I almost instantly felt better about myself. I stopped stuffing my bra. I stopped scarfing ice cream. I even began to obsess a bit about the microscopic belly I sported.
This vision of the “ideal” body type — despite becoming ever more rare in the general population — lasted a good 20 years. Not that there weren’t buxom bombshells on the scene: Anna Nicole Smith comes to mind. But many female celebrities who were more curvaceous than Kate Moss — Kelly Clarkson, say, or Mariah Carey — were suddenly degraded as “fat.” These ladies would have never been fat in the 80s. Hell, in the 50s, a time of Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield, they would have been considered positively underfed.
But the tide is turning. The latest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover model is Kate Upton, a girl known for her ample bosom and soft, jiggly belly. The It Girl of the small screen is Kim Kardashian, who has breasts like overripe melons and an ass so ample you could put a vase on it and watch it not fall off. There’s zaftig crooner Adele, who just won 6 Grammy Awards and covers the March issue of Vogue.
Yes, many of these robust women still get Photoshopped in order to appear thinner. Upton’s SI cover is a prime example of this. Compare it to recent pictures of her on the runway and behold her sleek, and very sudden, six-pack (above).
But trends tend to morph every decade or so and we are overdue for one. Bigger girls are now “in.” Woe to the multibillion-dollar diet industry. Scoop up some Breyer’s stock now.
In some ways, this couldn’t come too soon. Eating disorders have become more common, even affecting very young girls. However, as serious and horrific as anorexia or bulimia is, far fewer women will die of those diseases than will die of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and even cancer, all linked to obesity. In fact, obesity and smoking are the two biggest factors trimming life span in the U.S.
But let’s get back to me. As a size zero, I admit I enjoyed my run as a body “ideal.” I watch the new resurgence of the bigger body type with some trepidation. Is a Ben & Jerry’s scarf-fest in my near future?
Hell no. I’m now old enough to be confident in my body. I don’t care one whit that my boobs are more Kate Moss than Kate Upton and my ass more Keira Knightley than Kim Kardashian.
But my fondest wish is a world that has room for both Kates — Moss and Upton. A world where a 10-pound weight loss isn’t lauded with a magazine cover, and a 10-pound weight gain isn’t shamed with a magazine cover. Women of the world, it’s you buying these magazines.
While I empathize with the popular Internet meme (left) that implores society to get back to a time when voluptuous Marilyn Monroe was sexier than skeletal Keira Knightley, I don’t like it. Why must female body types be pitted against each other like a bunch of drunk and fractious Beverly Hills housewives?
Women, stop! It’s you buying these diet pills, it’s you undergoing major surgery to tuck your stomach or increase your cup size. Trust me, the average dude doesn’t care. If you’ve got lady parts, you’ll find plenty of willing partners.
And in time, young women of the world, you will be old enough and mature enough to take your body as it is, to revel in your non-weight accomplishments, and to brush off your non-weight failures.
So enjoy some ice cream. Or not.